UEFA Champions League Group A
Manchester United vs. FC Basel
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Tuesday, 12 September 2017
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Manchester United began their UEFA Champions League campaign with a routine win over FC Basel at Old Trafford.
The 3-0 victory began with Marouane Fellaini scoring late in the first half after replacing Paul Pogba who was forced off through injury.
Early pressure from United saw Lukaku’s goalbound effort blocked before Anthony Martial sliced over from the rebound.
A brilliant move involving Lukaku and Martial led to Juan Mata’s lofted pass being headed over by Henrikh Mkhitaryan when maybe he should’ve hit the target.
Working hard down the channels and winning back possession, Lukaku eventually saw sight of goal but his attempt was held by Tomas Vaclik.
After Pogba was replaced with a worrying looking hamstring strain, Mkhitaryan struck the post from Lukaku’s low cross and was also thwarted from the rebound via a combination of resolute defending and Vaclik’s safe hands.
The confident Martial saw a shot blocked before Luca Zuffi flashed an effort wide at the other end despite Mata being seemingly fouled in the build up.
Flourishing in a central role, Mkhitaryan spread the play to Ashley Young wide right, and the captain, taking over the armband from Pogba, swung in a cross which Fellaini duly obliged to nod home for the opening goal.
Taulant Xhaka’s deep free-kick was met by the head of Mohamed Elyounoussi but David De Gea was on hand to grasp the ball firmly under the torrential rain of Manchester.
After the break, mazy dribbling from Martial in a similar position to his debut delight against Liverpool two years ago to the day, forced a parried save from Vaclik.
The resulting corner was taken short and Daley Blind’s cross was headed home by Lukaku in front of the Stretford End to make it a Belgian double.
Looking for a response, Elyounoussi fired wide before Lukaku’s header from Mkhitaryan’s free-kick was turned behind.
Sloppy play from Mkhitaryan’s stray pass saw Basel break and Elyounoussi force De Gea to palm the ball over the bar.
Persistent work from Fellaini ended with Martial failing to divert his low cross towards goal and Young via his weaker left foot forced Vaclik into a low save, tipping the ball past his post.
Elyounoussi’s glanced header drifted wide, substitute Rashford’s free-kick flew high and wide before the latter sealed the contest late on.
Lukaku helped the ball on to Fellaini inside the right channel, and the pull back found its way through to Rashford, who made no mistake finishing off the move.
That was that in a comfortable night’s work for Jose Mourinho’s side in the first of three consecutive home fixtures in three different competitions.
A return to league duty sees Everton welcomed at 4pm on Sunday before Burton Albion arrive for an EFL Cup tie next week.
As for the Champions League, United travel to Moscow to face CSKA in two weeks time, looking to build on tonight’s three points after an eagerly awaited return to club football’s elite completion after a two year absence.
Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Blind; Matic, Pogba (Fellaini 19); Mata (Rashford 77), Mkhitaryan, Martial (Lingard 70), Lukaku.
Subs not used: Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Carrick.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Basel: Vaclik; Akanji, Suchy, Balanta; Lang, Zuffi, Xhaka, Riveros (Oberlin 77); Steffen, van Wolfswinkel (Bua 66), Elyounoussi.
Subs not used: Salvi, Gaber, Fransson, Schmid, Calia.
Manager: Raphael Wicky